In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Bella Voce, Chicago's premier a cappella vocal ensemble, will present a series of fall, holiday, and spring concerts. Andrew Lewis, Bella Voce's artistic director, will conduct..
Bella Voce performs traditional and contemporary, sacred, and secular choral music that inspires and exhilarates its audiences. The stellar choral group honors the traditions that won it so many admirers and supporters over the years. It also expands and explores new repertoire, and strives to attract new audiences and new sources of financial support.
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Review: William Billings (1746-1800), a Boston tanner and self-taught composer & singing master, was the foremost of a group of New England Psalmodists who flourished in the early years of American political independence. By the time his first tunebook, 'The New England Psalm Singer,' appeared in print in 1770, Billings had mastered both small and large-scale forms. The fine British a cappella choral group His Majestie's Clerkes does full justice to this wonderfully melodic, rich-harmonied Christian church music. Included are 16 songs: 'O Praise the Lord of Heaven,' 'Is any afficted,' 'Emmaus,' 'Africa' (a personal favorite), funeral anthem: 'Samuel the Priest,' the joyful ' Shiloh' (another favorite), 'Jordan,' the wonderful 'I am the Rose of Sharon,' 'Euroclydon,' 'Hear my Pray'r,' 'Rutland,' 'David's lamentation,' the sweet fugue 'As the Hart panteth,' 'Creation,' the powerful, dramatic 'Brookfield,' and the Easter Anthem: 'The Lord is ris'n indeed' (the strongest song on the CD). This is incredible stuff, and looking for comparisons, what comes to mind are the choruses from Handel's 'Messiah'--but we're hearing these songs for the first time, and we're being treated to the work of a little-known American genius. Highly recommended!
Songlist: O Praise the Lord of Heaven, Is any afflicted, Emmaus, Africa, Funeral Anthem: Samuel the Priest, Shiloh, Jordan, I am the Rose of Sharon, Euroclydon, Hear my Prayer, Rutland, David's lamentation, As the Hart panteth, Creation Brookfield, Easter Anthem: The Lord is ris'n indeed
Review: A fascinating survey of almost three centuries of communal singing, performed with sweetness, devotion and even a touch of earthy enthusiasm where required.
Songlist: Colchester, The Humble Suit of a Sinner, The Lamentation of a Sinner, The Humble Complaint of a Sinner, Brevity, Cambridge Short/Southwell, Watford, The beauty of Isr'el is slain, Thomas-Town, Chester, Chesterfield, Who is this that cometh from Edom?, Worcester, Amanda, Montgomery, Windham, Ode on Music, All Saints, Rainbow, Schenectady, Greenwich, Decay, Evening Hymn
Review: Composer Frank Ferko's majestic new Stabat Mater (The Mother Stood) broadens the embrace of this profound medieval hymn depicting Mary at the Crucifixion. Ferko supplements the original Latin text on the theme of premature death with passages from classical Greek drama and modern verse. Ferko (b. 1950) composed his Stabat Mater in 1998 for the a capella mixed choir His Majestie's Clerkes. The Chicago Tribune pronounced their concert premiere of Ferko's Stabat Mater a classical highlight of 1999: 'a marvelously intricate and sincerely devout tour de force that showed off the Clerke's disciplined, sensitive, and uncommonly nuanced singing.' Writer Ted Shen asked rhetorically, 'When will Frank Ferko be recognized for what he is, a talented and erudite innovator of old vocal genres?' With his fugal writing, Ferko 'plays' the choir like an organ. Not surprisingly, Ferko is a veteran church organist and choral director as well as composer. He holds a doctorate in music composition from Northwestern University, where he studied with Alan Stout. The work consists of 25 miniature pieces (20 Latin stanzas and five English interpolations) 'that fit together much like a mosaic,' Ferko writes in the CD booklet. Musically, the composition employs 'old-fashioned' concepts: tonal centers, church modes, major and minor keys, counterpoint, and melody. The music digresses occasionally, 'but there is a basic tonal framework for the entire composition,' Ferko writes. He describes the tonal center as progressing through two 'arches,' from E to B-flat and from B-flat back to E --'and beyond, in the final chorale.'
Songlist: Stabat Mater, Cujus animam gementem, O quam tristis, Quae maerebat, Andromache's lament, Quis est homo, Quis non posset, Pro peccatis, Vidit suum, The Mother, Eia mater, Fac ut ardeat, Sancta mater, Tui nati, Layout, Haiku for an East Asia Scholar, Ancho y Ajeno, RSVP, Fac me tecum, Juxta crucem, Virgo virginum, Fac ut portem, Elegy, Fac me plagis, Flammis ne, Christe cum sit, Quando corpus